LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez will open the season on the disabled list after being diagnosed with a sprain of the lisfranc ligament in his right foot, dealing an early blow to Detroit's lineup.Martinez is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks before returning to baseball
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez will open the season on the disabled list after being diagnosed with a sprain of the lisfranc ligament in his right foot, dealing an early blow to Detroit's lineup.
Martinez is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks before returning to baseball activity. He'll wear a cast for the next 7-10 days, after which doctors should have a better idea how long he'll be out.
Martinez was diagnosed with a midfoot sprain after catching his spikes in the dirt on a shoestring catch. A stress CT scan conducted by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson revealed the lisfranc sprain, a tougher injury that requires a longer recovery.
"It's longer than I thought it would be," said manager Brad Ausmus, who had been encouraged by the fact that Martinez could walk around without a walking boot without pain.
Still, Ausmus pointed out, "It's not a rupture, so it's not surgical. It just has to heal. The inflammation has to get out. If it were ruptured or torn, that's when it's major."
The Tigers have been saying for most of camp that health is the key to a postseason run. Many players believe they would've grabbed a spot in the 2016 postseason if not for injuries to Martinez (fractured elbow), Nicholas Castellanos (broken hand) and Jordan Zimmermann (neck).
Martinez's injury leaves the Tigers looking for replacements for a hitter at the heart of the Detroit lineup. Martinez batted .307 with 22 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .908 OPS in 120 games, most of them while batting fifth in the lineup behind Jose Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
"There's no question our lineup is better with J.D. in it. We'll deal with it," Ausmus said. "And if you think about it, 3-4 weeks from today, 10 days of it are going to be while we're still here [in Spring Training]."
The Tigers, who have spent Spring Training trying to determine how to fill center field, have about a week to figure out a replacement in right. Slugger Steven Moya filled in for Martinez for part of his time out this past summer. Moya provides the biggest impact bat when he's hot, but he has struggled this spring after batting .255 (24-for-94) with five homers, 11 RBIs and 38 strikeouts in 31 games.
Alex Presley has had a hot bat this camp, batting .444 in Grapefruit League play. Tyler Collins, one of the candidates in center, could also shift over to right, as could Michael Mahtook. Either of them moving over could open playing time in center for prospect JaCoby Jones, who's batting .324 this spring after delivering a walkoff single in Friday's 3-2 win.
"I think it will impact center," said Ausmus, who said they'll try to put together the best personnel to win games until Martinez returns.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.